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By Damian Browne | Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Brownie’s Blog is the weekly personal blog of multiple Group 1 winning jockey Damian Browne. This week Brownie gives his view on the Jockey Replacement Rule. He comments on the photo-finish reversal decision from a meeting at Yeppoon and he expresses his concern at the possible fallout from official processes that simply take far too long before reaching a conclusion. This is Brownie's Blog … exclusive to HRO

The Queensland Branch of the Australian Trainer’s Association is currently seeking clarification on the Jockey Replacement Rule with regard to claiming apprentices after a disagreement at Doomben on Saturday where Desleigh Forster was denied her request to have Robbie Fradd (a senior jockey) replaced the indisposed Baylee Nothdurft (an apprentice jockey).

Stewards ruled that another apprentice, Corey Bayliss, had to take the ride which is entirely in keeping with the general ‘like for like’ direction embedded in the rule, although it can come down to just who is available in the jockey’s room to pick up the ride at the time.

The bottom line is rules are rules … that is a fact that we all have to accept and the problem I guess is that if they bend a rule for one person, they have to bend it for everybody.

That doesn’t mean the Jockey Replacement rule is not a fickle topic. It really is one.

I know you can come into this argument from a number of directions but my personal feeling is that the owner and trainer, who do the paying and put in the hard work, should be able to put on who they want to put on … who they best feel suits their horse.

Bear in mind they know their horse better than the stewards or anyone else and would be wanting to give their horse its best chance.

In that sense they are protecting the punter as well, who is always a factor in these arguments.

An owner or trainer won’t want to put somebody on who they feel doesn’t suit their horse …and neither would a punter want that to happen. That goes against everybody really.

It’s a difficult one and we can argue all day. Between the black and white there is often a grey area in some of the rules of racing and this looks to be the case here.

I’ve got my opinion, as I’ve stated, but I also believe that rules are rules and, until a rule is changed, whatever is in place at the time is what needs to be adhered to.


The majority of the Rules Of Racing have been in place for a hundred years.

To state the obvious, the sport has changed dramatically in that time and you would think there are instances in this day and age where it could be advantageous to change certain rules.

If that is the case with any rule it should be changed. It shouldn’t be there just because it was there before or because it is easier to leave it in place.

If ever there is a good argument why a rule should be changed, I think it should be changed.


There are some protocols though, that have to be clear-cut, unambiguous and not open to change, particularly after the fact.

In that regard, the recent reversal of a photo-finish result from a race Yeppoon many weeks ago really is hard to comprehend.

It is a strange one.

I know, in general, connections can query the result and ask to look at the photo when they have the need … which the jockey did on this occasion. Reports suggest that the quality of the photo available to the connections right after the race wasn’t the greatest.

Now the story (as reported) is that a different photo … the reverse angle … was available at a delayed, subsequent inquiry.

To be able to get it right you surely need to have both angles … photos from both sides … available to the judge, the stewards and any connections querying the result right after the race.

Why that didn’t happen, I don’t know but it does seem silly that they reportedly made a decision weeks later from a photo that wasn’t available originally.

Most of the people who backed the new winner aren’t going to get their money now are they? The connections of the original winner now become losers through no fault of his own.

Two things: There shouldn’t be mistakes made like this and, secondly, everything that is necessary should be made available to officials straight after the race and then a decision has to be made.

It should be done and dusted right there … the judge’s decision being final.


When riders are stood down for an extended period while awaiting the lab findings from a urine sample it takes a serious toll on them not only financially but reputation-wise – and both of those could end up being unfair outcomes for them if their samples come back clean.

They certainly won’t be compensated for any loss of earnings and their reputation might have taken a damaging hit.

That is why the system has to be improved.

I know the two riders currently stood down for this reason were unable to give samples when originally asked to do so (I discussed possible reasons for that in a previous blog) but they complied the next day and the bottom line is I cannot see why a resolution can take so long (it is now been over a ten day wait).

Unfortunately, racing is one of those sports where the Chinese whispers start and they get bigger and bigger and they can be quite damaging on a person’s reputation or name.

If a particular issue takes too long to sort out, even if those involved are proved to be not guilty, by that time their names have been dragged through the mud.

I know myself, in some instances with inquiries I had in my race riding … I got off, but some people still thought I’d done the wrong thing just because that’s how things get publicised and presented at the time. It makes a story and that’s all that some people are interested in.

Obviously, you want to catch those doing the wrong thing but, even there, a swift resolution is the best option for all concerned.

The fact that those two riders are still not riding is not right. It should have been sorted out long before now.

I can understand a time delay to some extent when you are going through appeal processors with lawyers and argument and counter argument involved, but what we have been talking about is a relatively straightforward matter and it should be dealt with quickly.

The processes and the timeframe they take should be under constant review to ensure the best outcome for everybody.

We shouldn’t just carry on and accept situations which really are unacceptable.

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Damian Browne
Damian Browne
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best